ABC‘s Agents of Shield FZZT TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, Episode 6: FZZT picked up the pieces, from last episode’s reveal, and began to assemble something different. Skye (Chloe Bennet) had been earning her keep (too bad it took a shunning and an inhibitor bracelet to get her to this point), but was still kept at arms length by Ward (Brett Dalton) and Coulson (Clark Gregg). Coulson had a full physical to contend with, drawing some concern from agent May (Ming-Na Wen). Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) were at the heart of the episode’s mystery contagion: a morbidly nifty virus, that turned victims into electrostatic bombs, who float after discharge. When Simmons got infected, “FZZT” became a race for the cure, and something of a wake up call for Fitz-Simmons.
The resolution of the double agent Skye sub plot did, as I had hoped, reset the workplace dynamic. Everyone seemed to be taking the job, and their individual tasks, more seriously. That’s good. Everyone, that was, except the Fitz-Simmons team, which was still all scientific sugar-rush banter. That’s bad. It turned out to be amusing – even occasionally poignant – banter. That’s good. The romantic tension had moved away from Skye and Ward, to Fitz and Simmons. That… could go either way. Agent Coulson took the time to address his “death,” suggesting his character (and perhaps the show, itself) may have turned something of a corner. That remains to be seen.
“FZZT” officially made a habit of agent Coulson talking down “ground zero” cases (unsuccessfully, I might add), and furthered agent May’s role as the series Dark Horse (“have a cookie” should never be that scary an invitation – even during an interrogation). The fire fighter connection struck me as an allusion to ongoing illness among 911 first responders. A touch I appreciated. The Chitauri virus plot made for another nice detail; disease had been a major factor in first contact between Human cultures, it should certainly apply to contact with non-terrestrials. The downside was more reliance on film references and no villain (I shared Ward’s frustration over the threat not being something he could punch). A good filler episode, but it feels like the series has been mostly filler, up to this point.
The climax came in the form of a “fall on the grenade” sacrifice play (with extra fall) by Simmons. The fact that it turned out to be unnecessary made for an emotional last look between her and a sealed off Fitz. The way I see it, if you have the time to flinch/ scream, you have time to act against whatever makes you flinch/ scream. In the time it took Fitz to yell behind and pound on clear, sound proof blast doors, some kind of “all clear” signal could have been given. Unless the bus was circled back, for Ward to pull off the stunt rescue of the week, Simmons should have been miles behind. Last time I checked, not even super spies can fall sideways (not without power/ powers, anyway). It was a decent stunt, though. As ashamed as I felt for it, I couldn’t have been the only one that saw the saving of Simmons as a lost opportunity to light a fire under the series.
I suppose I can share my theory on Coulson’s resurrection, now that it has seemingly been taken off the table. Life Model Decoy. Not a unique or radical notion, by any measure, but oh, the possibilities now denied to the series. LMDs are basically androids programed with human identities; in some cases, made to believe that they are the genuine article. The whole series could have turned on such a development. All the hints about Coulson being different, since his return, and the magic of his Tahiti rehabilitation would have paid off big. More importantly, an opportunity to give Coulson a sinister edge (reminiscent of, say, Buffy‘s Giles, or Firefly‘s Mal) may have been lost. Source material LMDs have gone off the deep end, upon learning about themselves. Coulson going rogue, and squaring off against his own team, could have been epic (and as good a reason as any to bring in characters like “Dum Dum Dugan,” or further appearances by Fury).
It did occur to me that an LMD with scars is no large feat, and that agent May is just Black Ops sinister enough to have lied through their bonding moment. There is still hope for something of a “left-field” moment, that shakes up the show and vindicates its run, thus far. A series should not have to rely on hopes for improvement for its survival, however. There is a point where investments of optimism should garner some returns, and I am not sure Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will live up to fan hopes – let alone its initial hype.